Christmas Lunch – Tequila Cured Salmon, the perfect starter

I am still thinking of what to cook for Christmas lunch, but one thing I know I am making to start it off is Tequila Cured Salmon. It’s one of my favourites, as the tender, translucent flesh is succulent, sweet and spicy; perfect with the crunch of a good flatbread or crouton, it has just the right note of ‘special’ for such an occasion. You can serve as finger food, or a light entree. This dish that got me recognised by my food peers long ago. I may follow the theme up with some killer American Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes just for fun! Yum Yum Yum!

Tequila Cured Salmon

Tequila Cured Salmon

Tequila Cured Salmon


1 side salmon fillet, skin on (about 2 kg)
150 gm hot mustard
3 tbsp chipotle chilli puree
½ cup chopped coriander
½ cup dill seed
3 tbsp cumin seed
5 limes, zested
1½ cups rock salt
2½ cups brown sugar
1 cup tequila
1 bunch coriander (whole stalks)
¼ bunch dill, for garnish


  1. Lay cling film sufficient to wrap the salmon onto a baking sheet. The baking sheet needs to have at least 10mm depth as liquid will accumulate. Place the salmon on top of the cling film, skin down.
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend the mustard and chipotle chilli puree. Spread evenly over the salmon.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped coriander, dill seed, cumin seed, and zest. Sprinkle evenly over the salmon, pressing into the mustard/chipotle mix.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the salt, brown sugar and tequila. Cover the salmon with the mixture, pressing lightly.
  5. Lay the whole stalks of coriander on top of the salmon.
  6. Wrap the cling film around the salmon to keep the curing marinade close to the flesh. The tighter the better; keeping air out and mix in.
  7. Place another flat tray or board on top of the salmon and add about 2kg of weight to help open the flesh and press the curing marinade into the salmon. Refrigerate for about 18 hours.
  8. Remove from the fridge, unwrap and scrape off the curing ingredients. The fish should have a raw, translucent appearance and a soft texture. If the colour is pale pink, the curing has gone on for too long and the fish is “cooked”. This is unfortunate, but the fish will still be delicious.
  9. Slice the salmon across the grain paper-thin, garnish with sprigs of dill and serve.

Note:   After slicing, you can mist the salmon with a light spray of tequila for more flavour. Serve with dill mustard sauce or horseradish cream, with blue corn chips, croutons, or your favourite crunchy bread.

Serves 10-12 as entrée or stand up canapé

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